Just like the Alberta sky Jim Cressman use to gaze at and dream about his future while working on his parents’ cattle ranch, his career seems wide and limitless.
Last week the Penticton man and president of Invictus Entertainment, accepted the Ron Sakamoto Talent Buyer or Promoter of the Year award at the Canadian Country Music Awards.
“It was an amazing weekend for sure. To win it in really my first year of business solo, under the Invictus Entertainment Group banner, really meant a lot,” said Cressman, who has been nominated for the award five times, but this was the first under his own business.
This award recognizes talent buyers or promoters who present and promote Canadian country artists in Canada. Cressman started Invictus Entertainment Group just over a year ago, the award only validates he is on the right path.
The multi-faceted company includes booking services, management services and they are also promoters working with big Canadian and international acts to put together shows. Carrie Underwood, KISS, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Motley Crue and others have been brought in by Cressman by working with venue management like Global Spectrum at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
“Just this year in Canada my little company has done over 700 shows coast to coast. I am really proud of that,” he said.
While it is great to book those internationally known acts, Cressman is also a big believer in homegrown Canadian talent. Invictus manages many bands that have come through Penticton including One More Girl, Charlie Major, George Canyon, Aaron Pritchett, Brett Kissel, Livy Jeanne, Victoria Banks, Ryan Laird, Jordan McIntosh and they book for Emerson Drive who kicked off the CCMA award show.
“I think it matches in terms of ability anything out there. No matter how attractive the arena touring business is and the big show business is, I believe in lending a hand to develop and grow Canadian talent because I believe in what we have up here to offer,” said Cressman.
While most in the entertainment business chose to live where the action is happening in big cities, Cressman and his wife, Kristie Marleau, made Penticton their home seven years ago. “Rather than being in Toronto, Vancouver, Nashville or Los Angeles we made a lifestyle choice and fortunately we have been able to prove that as long as you buckle down and work hard it doesn’t really matter where you live,” said Cressman. “You create great partnerships with the artists and the venues and work in a manner that is transparent and honest as you can be. One of the reasons I believe we have been successful is because we have remained small and focused with the artist services.”
Keeping a strong and close relationship with his clients is very important to Cressman, he is invested emotionally in their music and in the artist. He quite often entertains them in his hometown.
“I don’t work for Penticton Tourism, but I really should because every artist I have had come out over the years to visit the area and sit down and have meetings or dinner are in love with the area and many have met with realtors looking to buy property here because they had no idea that the South Okanagan is as beautiful as it is,” said Cressman.
While there are challenges to overcome in the business, Cressman said there are obvious cool perks too.
“I am happy to say that is a long list. On the touring side it’s seeing an artist like Brad Paisley or Carrie Underwood playing a place like the SOEC and looking out into the audience and watch them get so excited, so interactive that an artist of that magnitude would come to their small town. Then seeing the artist who has 5,000 screaming fans singing back every lyric of every song they have ever put out. In both cases of Keith Urban and Brad Paisley this happened and they came up to me after the show and said I want to do more places like this. This was amazing and why I do this.”
Right now his company employs six people and they are about to grow. Invictus just launched a record label called Big Star Recordings and they are getting into the music publishing business. Their first signing was George Canyon, who recently released the song Slow Dance. It is the most added song in Canadian radio for Canyon in his career. Cressman is also growing their presence in the film and television world and was at the Toronto International Film Festival this past week. Several of his singing artists will be featured in a television film during the Christmas holiday season.
The entrepreneur said there is no such thing as an overnight success story while speaking of the artists he works with. He can apply the same mantra to himself.
“Everyone says in this business if you want to make it you have to believe in yourself. That is partially true,” he said. “More important than that, you need to surround yourself with people who believe in you because you are going to have moments when you lose faith in yourself and when that happens you need someone there to pick you up. I absolutely have had those moments and those people who helped me and I believe in paying that forward.”